NUI Galway will lead pandemic-readiness project in Europe

2 Feb 2021

Prof Máire Connolly, NUI Galway Image: Martina Regan

The project will develop IT systems and processes that will enable the simulation of future pandemics in Ireland and Europe.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, researchers are focusing on how to be more prepared for future pandemics. NUI Galway has been awarded €9.75m to lead a major new European project on pandemic preparedness and response, starting this month.

The two-year project, known as Pandem-2, will develop IT systems and processes to improve the EU’s preparedness and response to future pandemics.

The project aims to allow for improved planning and management of critical resources including hospital beds, PPE and vaccines. It will also enable the simulation of future pandemics and the training of pandemic managers on both a national level and across Europe.

While led by NUI Galway, the project consortium includes two Irish companies – Carr Communications and Pintail. It also brings together European leaders from the health, security, defence, microbiology, communications, information technology and emergency management fields.

The project builds on key insights learned from previous EU-funded projects including the original Pandem project, which was established to identify gaps and priority research needs for pandemic preparedness and response in Europe.

NUI Galway’s Prof Máire Connolly said the project aims to better prepare EU member states for future pandemics through innovations in technology, training and cross-border collaboration.

“The state-of-the-art tools that will be developed by Pandem-2 have the potential to transform how Europe prepares for future large-scale healthcare crises through improved analysis of surveillance and contact tracing data, innovative pandemic modelling, better resource allocation and training of pandemic managers using simulations across Europe,” she said.

Prof Jim Duggan added that the project will help to develop “an IT dashboard” that will host pandemic-relevant data from across Europe.

“This data will enable pandemic managers in capacity building and developing operational strategy for cross-border pandemic response so that Europe will be as well positioned as possible for any future pandemic that may arise,” he said.

President of NUI Galway, Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said there is currently no greater need than public health. “As we continue to experience the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is reassuring to know that NUI Galway and the Pandem-2 consortium will be at the forefront of developing systems to improve the EU’s preparedness and response to future pandemics,” he said.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic